Paulsboro Meeting Spirals Out Of Control [AUDIO/PHOTOS]
A community information meeting about the Paulsboro train derailment and hazardous chemical release did not turn out as planned.The forum was designed to reassure residents and answer questions, but when the PA system failed, hundreds of people became unruly, and started shouting questions and concerns to state officials.
When a DEP spokesman told crowd Governor Christie and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin were closely monitoring the situation, people booed, and when residents were assured air and water testing found only very low levels of vinyl chloride, one man wearing a Batman tee shirt stood up and shouted, “We haven’t or heard a bird chirp since that happened- it’s worse than they’re saying.”
Many residents expressed disappointment and anger about how the whole situation has been handled.
One woman said, “They’re not letting us know anything, we’re relying on news cameras, they’re changing appointments, they’re canceling things, they evacuated one side of the street not the other side of the street, and across the street they gave them a hotel to stay in – it’s not being handled properly…The people handling the situation do not know what they are doing – that’s what I believe and they’re being very reactive instead of being proactive – they’re waiting for something to happen and then tell everybody to get out instead of being proactive and take things in precautionary measures and do things before things explode.”
Another resident said she was told, “Shut your windows and they evacuated a hundred people, but the rest of us are walking around town, so I want to know: Did they find a way to contain those chemicals to that evacuation zone? And the rest of us can walk free and breathe? I had to ship 2 of my 3 grandchildren out of town because they’re sick. The 3rd one has asthma – he ain’t allowed to leave the house – he’s locked in- why don’t you just put an ankle bracelet on him?”
Many people are furious that communication has been almost non-existent since the very beginning of the hazardous chemical problem.
“I brought my grandson to school,” said an elderly woman. “The Principal stopped me and said bring him back home – there’s some kind of leak – I drove through the clouds – did anybody say oh no, no – no! They’re just like – make a left, keep going. I want to know what they’re going to do for the people of this town- the people who are stuck in Paulsboro that now have to waste gas to get around town, while the people that are on their feet breathing this air can walk right through the mess.”
One man said, “We’re tired of these polluters doing things that are endangering us and our future…It’s a disaster – I’ve been running my Facebook site and the residents and people in surrounding towns have been posting information, and that’s the only information some people are getting…They don’t have their stuff together – we have people with GED’s barely making it through high school hiring the people that are their friends and allies to come out and run these dangerous environmental projects, and they act like they’re the kind of the hill – they’re not the king of the hill…They’re giving us the run-around.”